July 23, 2017

POLLitically Incorrect – 1/3/2017

Image credit: SI.com

It appears that some AP voters have made a New Year’s resolution to not be so awful anymore, but unfortunately that trend hasn’t continued for the majority of folks. You see, The Baylor/Kansas conundrum finally got fixed by a UCLA loss of all things. All of those #1 votes that were on UCLA went to Baylor, which was seemingly enough to push them ahead of Kansas. Of course, the silly part is, Villanova went and beat a top-10 team on the road and couldn’t pick up any of those three defectors from UCLA? Are people just avoiding voting Villanova number one? Seems odd to me.

No conference had weirder results than the ACC did with Duke, UNC and Virginia all losing on the same day. If you want to have some fun with small sample sizes, just go look at the ACC standings right about now because LOL. Duke got blown out by a now-ranked Virginia Tech team, North Carolina got blown out by a team some analysts thought wouldn’t win an ACC game this season, and Virginia lost at home (again) to a surging Florida State squad.

Oh, and by the way, the Yellow Jackets won at VCU. Don’t worry though, you guys, it’s not like Jon Rothstein gets to vote in the AP po–oh wait, yes he does.

#1 Villanova Wildcats [59] (LW: 1) – Look, I’m fine with Villanova at #1. Winning at Creighton by double digits is no easy task, and the Wildcats were more than up for it. In fact, there’s a pretty decent case that ‘Nova should be a unanimous number one. If Villanova wins at Butler on Wednesday and Baylor looks less than impressive in either of their two easy home wins against Iowa State and Oklahoma State, they could widen the gap.

#2 Baylor Bears [6] (LW: 4) – Finally, the Bears take their rightful place above Kansas. Keep in mind, I don’t think Baylor will finish ranked above Kansas, but for what their resumes are now, they deserve to be ranked higher. The Bears have a really easy week ahead of them, and should stay in their place for one more week.

#3 Kansas Jayhawks (LW: 3) – It’s nice to see that the Jayhawks didn’t fall. Winning at TCU won’t be as easy this season as it has been in years past and the Jayhawks eked out a six point victory on Friday. While UCLA certainly has a better loss than Kansas, and has the best win of the bunch, Kansas is on a 12-game winning streak with five coming against the top-100.

#4 UCLA Bruins (LW: 2) – I think this is an appropriate fall for a top-ranked team that loses on the road to another ranked team. Even with the loss, the Bruins still have an overall better resume than Gonzaga, but are fairly even with Kansas and Baylor. I still think UCLA wins the Pac 12 and I think they get revenge on the Ducks in a little over a month.

#5 Gonzaga Bulldogs (LW: 7) – The first beneficiary of the ACC’s struggle this past week. The Bulldogs got a bump from losses by Duke and Louisville while keeping steady with dominating wins over Pacific and Pepperdine. You see, Gonzaga will have very few impressive wins the rest of this season and voters need to be prepared for that. Outside of matchups with St. Mary’s, Gonzaga should easily win out, and their resume to this point is what it will be. The rest of the season will be full of “eye test” for Gonzaga. 

#6 Kentucky Wildcats (LW: 8) – I would venture to guess that this is the lowest Kentucky is ranked the rest of the season. Kenpom’s #1 team has losses at home to #4 UCLA and at #9 Louisville. They won’t be challenged in a mediocre SEC and just have a home date with Kansas later this month to navigate. The Wildcats are fortunate to beat UNC in Las Vegas, because that game will likely decide who gets a one-seed. It’s Kentucky’s to lose at this point, but UNC will have more games to improve their standing in voters’ eyes.

#7 West Virginia Mountaineers (LW: 11) – Resume-wise, Kentucky and West Virginia are about as equal as they come, so I was happy to see the Mountaineers jump both Duke and Louisville. They go on the road to Lubbock tonight, in a matchup that should decide who’s overperformance thus far is more sustainable? Texas Tech is awfully good (#27 on Kenpom), but if WVU is really #7, they should be able to handle that game.

#8 Duke Blue Devils (LW: 5) – What a weird season. So many injuries, suspensions, and now, coach surgery? So many analysts picked the Dukies to win the National Championship in April, and Las Vegas still has them as the odds on favorite to do so, but it’s not coming without its bumps in the road. Losing to Virginia Tech wasn’t shocking. Never being competitive was, though. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Capel coaching and when Grayson Allen returns, but Duke doesn’t have a signature win yet and starting next week, they’ll get chances at that about 75% of the times they take the floor. 

#9 Louisville Cardinals (LW: 6) – I’m not sure why Louisville is ranked behind Duke. The Cardinals have better wins and better losses. One team has 4 top-25 wins and no losses outside the top-10, the other has one top-25 win and one loss outside the top-10. I’ll let you guess which is which.

#10 Creighton Blue Jays (LW: 10) – There’s no shame in losing at home to Villanova, and I’m actually glad to see Creighton hold steady at #10. The Blue Jays have racked up six wins against the top-100, but only one against the top-25. Eventually you can’t lose all of these type of games and stay ranked as a top-10 team as they don’t get at many shots at wins like this in the Big East as others do in the ACC or Big 12.

#11 Virginia Cavaliers (LW: 12) – I’m not sure what Virginia’s week means for the ACC. Winning at Louisville and losing at home to Florida State is one hell of a week though. Normally, I’d be pretty torqued that they moved up a spot after a home loss, but it wasn’t a bad loss (looking at you, Purdue), and it was coupled with a good win (at Louisville), and other teams around them in the rankings had worse weeks (UNC).

#12 Florida State Seminoles (LW: 20) – I’ve been hesitant to back the ‘Noles to this point. They’ve racked up some top-100 wins, but didn’t have a signature one until winning at Virginia. Now, their next five games are all against top-25 opponents, and four are at home. I would think going 2-3 is necessary to maintain a ranking, 3-2 is good enough for a spot in the teens and 4-1 should keep them in the 10-15 range that they are now. 

#13 Wisconsin Badgers (LW: 14) – Wisconsin was about the only B1G team to avoid a silly loss this past week. The secret to their success was only playing Rutgers at home. Smart. This is also one of our first tests of a team that lost to another ranked team on a neutral floor, behind ranked above the other team. You see, UNC beat Wisconsin and has more top-100 wins than the Badgers. The problem is, Wisconsin didn’t lose to Georgia Tech. Who beats you matters just as much, if not more, than who you beat.

#14 North Carolina Tar Heels (LW: 9) – What on earth are the Tar Heels doing losing to Georgia Tech? I know it’s just a one game sample, but for a team whose second best win is over Oklahoma State, they can’t afford to be taking these losses. I wish they would have fallen more because even a team like Oregon has comparable wins and better losses, but UNC is a household name. Imagine if Florida State loses at Georgia Tech. You think they only fall five spots?

#15 Oregon Ducks (LW: 21) – The Ducks had the most important week of any team in my opinion. Winning homecourt games against UCLA and USC is a must for a team with conference championship aspirations, and important for a team that had struggled earlier in the season without Dillon Brooks. If you disregard the first week of the season, Oregon has been a top-10 team with a top-10 resume, but unfortunately you have to look at the full picture. #15 is right where the Ducks belong for now.

#16 Xavier Muskateers (LW: 17) – Did you forget about Xavier? That’s not a major surprise, but quietly the ‘X’ had a solid week with wins against Providence and at Georgetown. They couldn’t afford to take a loss here, and for my money, needed these wins to solidify their ranking as they lacked a requisite quantity of good wins. Good for Xavier.

#17 Arizona Wildcats (LW: 18) – Everything I just said for Xavier could be said for Arizona. Another team that needed a week with a couple decent wins to justify its ranking. At Stanford and at Cal are neither great wins or wins to sneeze at, but are wins that you expect the #17 team to get.

#18 Butler Bulldogs (LW: 13) – Woof, I have to eat a little crow here. I vouched pretty hard for Butler last week, then they went out and lost at St. John’s. The Bulldogs have a huge week ahead full of opportunity with ‘Nova at home and Georgetown on the road. 2-0 is just as possible as 0-2, and we’ll find out a lot about which direction Butler’s season is going to go.

#19 Saint Mary’s Gaels (LW: 19) – Go back and read what I said for Gonzaga because it applies here. The only other tidbit I want to mention about St. Mary’s is that they won both at Loyola Marymount and home against San Diego by the exact score of 72-60. If they win every conference game by that score I will that every voter vote them number one.

#20 Purdue Boilermakers (LW: 15) – For a team that only had one top-50 win and three top-100 wins, losing at home to Minnesota was a bold strategy for staying ranked. Seriously, Purdue’s best accomplishment to this point is being labeled as a good win for teams like Louisville and Villanova. Even Virginia Tech’s resume is better than theirs. I can’t believe they stayed as high as 20. 

#21 Virginia Tech Hokies (LW: UR) – Welcome to the show, Hokies! What a dominant win over Duke to start ACC play. Literally the only thing that kept Virginia Tech out of the rankings and Purdue in the rankings to this point was preseason expectations. Their resumes are actually very similar with a slight not to Virginia Tech for actually beating a top-10 team. Both teams face four top-100 foes the next two weeks, so we’ll see where the dust settles. 

#22 Cincinnati Bearcats (LW:23) – The Bearcats are another case of a good team playing in a bad conference that should be racking up a bunch of OK wins from here on out. Their best remaining game is getting Xavier at home in a great middle of the conference season, non-conference game. I would expect Cincinnati to hover in the 20-25 range simply because they won’t have real chances at marquee wins.

#23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (LW: 24) – My goodness, Notre Dame is so, blah. Their best win is Northwestern, but they’ll get a chance to change that with Louisville and Clemson coming to town this week. I’m not saying the Irish shouldn’t be top-25 if they win both this week, it’s just that I don’t think they should have been top-25 going IN to this week. 

#24 Florida Gators (LW: 25) – Florida will be a great team to watch as the season progresses. Their non-conference resume is strikingly similar, albeit better than Notre Dame’s, but their conference slates will be the exact opposite. If Florida can win these road games against mediocre teams like Arkansas, which they did last week, it’ll be interesting to see who the committee values more at the end of the season.

#25 Indiana Hoosiers (LW: 16) & USC Trojans (LW: 22) – Which team wants to be ranked less? Indiana loses at home to Nebrasketball and against Louisville while USC wins at Oregon State (whoopdifreakingdo) and gets housed at Oregon. If Indiana simply beats Nebraska (you too, Maryland), they’d comfortably be in the top-20. Meanwhile USC took their first loss of the season at Oregon, which isn’t a bad loss, but losing by 23? If you want to be taken seriously in the rankings, you need to be a little more competitive than a 23 point loser at top-15 Oregon.

Tom Danielson 65 Articles
Managing Editor

Every family needs an adult figure. That's Tom's job on this ship. After graduating from Iowa State University, Tom headed down the ‘failed professional golfer' career path before heading back to his calling as an engineer in the great white north (Minnesota). He got his start in blogging, and continues to contribute at the critically acclaimed site, Wide Right & Natty Lite.  A student of the ‘you can't fail if you don't try' philosophy, there's no better way to describe Tom than a 'Jack of all trades, master of none'.

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